Your Mid -Semester Break Reading List

September 11, 2017


Whip bird
Kungadgee, Victoria, Australia. A weekend in late November, 2014. At Hugh and Christine Cleary’s new vineyard, Whipbird, six generations of the Cleary family are coming together from far and wide to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the arrival of their ancestor Conor Cleary from Ireland. Hugh has been meticulously planning the event for months – a chance to proudly showcase Whipbird to the extended clan. Some of these family members know each other; some don’t. 
As the wine flows, it promises to be an eventful couple of days. 
Comic, topical, honest, sharply intelligent, and, above all, sympathetic, Robert Drewe’s exhilarating new novel tells a classic Australian family saga as it has never been told before. 


Wimmera
Growing up in a small country town, they spend their days playing cricket, yabbying in local dams, wanting a pair of Nike Air Maxes and not talking about how Fab's dad hits him or how the sudden death of Ben's next-door neighbour unsettled him. Almost teenagers, they already know some things are better left unsaid.Then a newcomer arrived in the Wimmera. Fab reckoned he was a secret agent and he and Ben staked him out. Up close, the man's shoulders were wide and the veins in his arms stuck out, blue and green. His hands were enormous, red and knotty. He looked strong. Maybe even stronger than Fab's dad. Neither realised the shadow this man would cast over both their lives.Twenty years later, Fab is still stuck in town, going nowhere but hoping for somewhere better. Then a body is found in the river, and Fab can't ignore the past any more. Literary crime fiction at it’s best, Wimmera is an inexorable exploration of life in small town Australia.

Taboo
From Kim Scott comes a work charged with ambition and poetry, in equal parts brutal, mysterious and idealistic, about a young woman cast into a drama that has been playing for over two hundred years ...Taboo takes place, in the present day, rural South-West of Western Australia, and tells the story of a group of Noongar people who revisit, for the first time in many decades, a taboo place: the site of a massacre that followed the assassination, by these Noongar's descendants, of a white man who had stolen a black woman. They come at the invitation of Dan Horton, the elderly owner of the farm on which the massacres unfolded. He hopes that by hosting the group he will satisfy his wife's dying wishes and cleanse some moral stain from the ground on which he and his family have lived for generations.But the sins of the past will not be so easily expunged.This is a novel of survival and renewal, as much as destruction; and, ultimately, of hope as much as despair.

After
Australia's bravest and most honest writer explores the devastating aftermath of her elderly mother's decision to end her own life.

Nikki Gemmell's world changed forever in October 2015 when the body of her elderly mother was found and it became clear she had decided to end her own life. After the immediate shock and devastation came the guilt and the horror, for Nikki, her family, relatives and friends. No note was left, so the questions that Elayn's death raised were endless. Was the decision an act of independence or the very opposite? Was it a desperate act driven by hopelessness and anger, or was her euthanasia a reasoned act of empowerment?After is the story of Elayn Gemmell - and the often difficult, prickly relationship between mothers and daughters, and how that changes over time. As anguished as it truthful, as powerful as it is profound, After is about life, death, elderly parents, mothers and daughters, hurt and healing, and about how little, sometimes, we know the ones we love the most.

A deeply intimate, fiercely beautiful, blazingly bold and important book.

 

On the Java Ridge
Amid the furious ocean there was no human sound on deck: some people standing, watching the wave, but no one capable of words. On the Java Ridge, skipper Isi Natoli and a group of Australian surf tourists are anchored beside an idyllic reef off the Indonesian island of Dana. In the Canberra office of Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, a Federal election looms and (not coincidentally) a hardline new policy is being announced regarding maritime assistance to asylum-seeker vessels in distress.A few kilometres away from Dana, the Takalar is having engine trouble. Among the passengers fleeing from persecution are Roya and her mother, and Roya’s unborn sister.The storm now closing in on the Takalar and the Java Ridge will mean catastrophe for them all.With On the Java Ridge Jock Serong, bestselling author of The Rules of Backyard Cricket, brings us a literary novel with the pace and tension of a political thriller—and some of the most compelling, heartstopping writing about the sea since Patrick O’Brian

The Crying Place
A stunning literary debut that takes the reader into the mysteries and truths that lie at the heart of our country.

After years of travelling, Saul is trying to settle down. But one night he receives the devastating news of the death of his oldest friend, Jed, recently returned from working in a remote Aboriginal community. Saul's discovery in Jed's belongings of a photo of a woman convinces him that she may hold the answers to Jed's fate. So he heads out on a journey into the heart of the Australian desert to find the truth, setting in motion a powerful story about the landscapes that shape us and the ghosts that lay their claim.The Crying Place is a haunting, luminous novel about love, country, and the varied ways in which we grieve. In its unflinching portrayal of the borderlands where worlds come together, and the past and present overlap, it speaks of the places and moments that bind us. The myths that draw us in. And, ultimately, the ways in which we find our way home.

The Choke
A mesmerising, harrowing and ultimately uplifting novel from the 2015 Miles Franklin winner.

Abandoned by her mother as a toddler and only occasionally visited by her volatile father who keeps dangerous secrets, Justine is raised solely by her Pop, an old man tormented by visions of the Burma Railway. Justine finds sanctuary in Pop's chooks and The Choke, where the banks of the Murray River are so narrow they can almost touch—a place of staggering natural beauty that is both a source of peace and danger. Although Justine doesn't know it, her father is a menacing criminal and the world she is exposed to is one of great peril to her. She has to make sense of it on her own—and when she eventually does, she knows what she has to do. 

A brilliant, haunting novel about a child navigating an often dark and uncaring world of male power, guns and violence, in which grown-ups can't be trusted and comfort can only be found in nature, The Choke is a compassionate and claustrophobic vision of a child in danger and a society in deep trouble. It once again showcases the Miles Franklin Award-winning author as a writer of rare empathy, originality and blazing talent. 

The Ministry of utmost Happiness

A dazzling,richly moving new novel by the internationally celebrated author of The God of Small Things.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on an intimate journey of many years across the Indian subcontinent - from the cramped neighborhoods of Old Delhi and the roads of the new city to the mountains and valleys of Kashmir and beyond, where war is peace and peace is war. 

It is an aching love story and a decisive remonstration, a story told in a whisper, in a shout, through unsentimental tears and sometimes with a bitter laugh. Each of its characters is indelibly, tenderly rendered. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued, patched together by acts of love - and by hope. 
As this ravishing, deeply humane novel braids these lives together, it reinvents what a novel can do and can be. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy's storytelling gifts.